Pancakes are pancakes, right? Wrong. I've become quite a pancake connoisseur over the years. There are small silver dollar pancakes, fluffy pancakes, thick pancakes, fruit-topped pancakes, syrup-lathered pancakes, butter buried pancakes, and so on. Years and years ago I was in Norfolk, Virginia doing an interview on the local ABC affiliate morning show to pitch The Original Amish Cook Cookbook. Yes, it made so much business sense to spend $500 to get to Norfolk and back so I could appear on a morning show that probably sold five books. Hey, at least the sales paid for one-way on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Anyway, I was feeling hungry so I ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant in Norfolk. This was back when even the most dodgy-looking motels had their own restaurants. I ordered pancakes. Eventually the waitress appeared bearing a stack of pancakes that were larger - and thicker - than the dinner plate they were served on. I recoiled at these vinyl record-sized discs. The waitress saw my expression and as if reading my mind:
"I don't know why he does that, everyone says the pancakes are too big. I think he gets bored."
I looked around. I was the only one in the restaurant. I could see why the cook got bored but it would have taken me all day to eat those pancakes.
A little restaurant in a nondescript strip mall in Monroe, Ohio actually does feature a single pancake that is about as large as a dinner plate and 3 or 4 times as thick, but at least they advertise it that way and as something to share. The hotel pancakes were unannounced Frankensteins of golden batter.
I'm never sure how some people can eat their pancakes with such a small drizzle of syrup. Really, what is the point? The pancakes are just the delivery vehicle for the syrup. I like my pancakes swimming in so much syrup, that they do the back-stroke. Which, by the way, we are entering maple syrup season and many Amish are beginning to eye their sugar shacks. Stay tuned for some neat recipes and stories celebrating sugaring season this spring!
I often find my stomach heavy and myself drowsy after eating syrup soaked pancakes and regretting the indulgence. But good pancakes and pure maple syrup are a tough duo to resist. Gatlinburg, Tennessee seems to be the pancake capital of the country and I'm not sure why, but there are pancake houses on every corner it seems. My mind is on pancakes today because Rachel whipped up a batch over the weekend. I wrote about the Colorado Amish over the weekend and the pancake recipe Rachel used actually came to me from an Amish woman in the San Luis Valley of Colorado where simple, scratch foods are a necessity, being so far from any sizable town. Rachel used buttermilk in place of regular milk, the same buttermilk I groggily poured myself a glass of the other morning, thinking it was regular milk. This meeting of myself and buttermilk turned out to be much more pleasant, making a nice, thick pancake which held its own quite well against the pancake syrup. Here is the recipe. The finished product is above, below are also some more process shots:
COLORADO AMISH PANCAKES
3 large eggs, beaten
3 cups whole milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
7 teaspoons baking powder
Combine the eggs, milk, and oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, to form a batter. Drop the batter by quarter-cupfuls onto a hot, greased pancakes. Cook until the edges are set and bubbles break the surface, about 1 minute. Flip the pancakes and continue cooking until golden brown and cooked through.